by Tony Loseto
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all–2 Corinthians 13:14 ESV
This familiar verse of Scripture reminds us that the Christian faith is Trinitarian in nature. In passages like this one, and countless others throughout the Bible, God has revealed Himself as one God existing in three Persons: the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit; each is co-equal and co-eternal with one another. This essential doctrine of the Trinity is a great example that a word itself need not be found in the Bible for the doctrine to still be “by necessary inference contained in the Scriptures.”1 So although the consonants and vowels of the word ‘Trinity’ are not found in the Bible, the doctrine of one God existing in three Persons is plainly and authoritatively in the revelation of the Bible.
The doctrine of the Trinity has called for faithful contending through the centuries of church history. But this doctrine also needs to inform our regular communion with God. As is often said, this is truth for life. Sadly though, we can treat the Trinity like a collector’s item; something to which we assign great value but make little use of in our lives.
I have a signed Bob Feller baseball in a well-sealed box on my bookshelf. I’m sure it has some monetary worth, but I have never taken it out and played catch with it. I also have a large collection of old Pokemon cards from my league days back in elementary school. A look online will show these cards are in great demand and worth more than I paid for them. But again, I leave these valuable items sealed up in a binder, never more to be shuffled up and dealt out. Or maybe you know someone with a classic rust-free Cadillac. I know people with such cars, and while I always get invited to look at them in a garage, I have never been asked if I would like to take for a drive down the road. Such a car is a collector’s item, and not for making your way around town.
By contrast, the doctrine of the Trinity should not be treated like a collector’s vehicle stowed in the garage. It needs to serve as the commuter car for living out the Christian life. In order to have a consistent communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we need to think not only about their formal existence but their functional economy as well. That is, how and in what ways a Christian practically relates to each person of the Godhead. Thankfully, Paul gives a glimpse of that in this closing prayer of benediction.
First, we are absolutely assured of God the Father’s love toward us in his electing, planning, and ordering of our salvation in Jesus Christ. Second, we may trust in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, who by his life, death, and resurrection, has gained the fullness of salvation from our sins. By a sincere faith in his gospel, we are forgiven by God, freed from slavery to sin, and filled with hope even in suffering. We are adopted through him to become sons and daughters of the living God. Third, Christians enjoy fellowship with the Holy Spirit. He is the applier of the entirety of our salvation from new birth to saving faith to indwelling us and testifying to us of our unchangeable identity and God’s unfailing Word to us.
This Trinitarian relationship for the Christian acts as a sort of three-legged stool upon which we experience communion with God. If you take away any of these relationships in day to day experience, spiritual balance becomes impossible and a wobbly walk of faith takes it place.
Without enjoying the Father’s love, we lose sight of the grand goal of our salvation: knowing the love of God and the glory of His name. If we do not feed our faith with the grace of Christ’s work for us, we will fill the void with false hopes of legalistic works, worldly prosperity, or license to sin. Lastly, without the regular testimony of the Spirit to our conscience through the Word of God, we risk easily forgetting all which God says is true and instead fall for all that the world, the flesh, and the devil continually throw at us.
Commenting on John Owen, Joel Beeke and Mark Jones write, “Whereas we have communion with the Father in His ‘love’ and with the Son in His ‘grace,’ communion with the Spirit is simply called ‘communion,’ for in the Spirit believers commune with both the Father and Son.”2 It would be difficult to overemphasize our need to walk in a regular fellowship with the Holy Spirit through the Word of God since it is him as is our Comforter who impresses the truth of the Father’s love and Christ’s grace upon our heart and mind.
So, it’s worth reflecting for a moment: is there any aspect of my relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit that I am treating like a collector’s item on a shelf instead of something I continually seek out for the life of my faith?
Perhaps, amid some trial, an uncertainty about the future, or a concern beyond your control, you can find confidence in the love of God the Father for you in Christ from before you were ever born. Or how can your faith be increasingly controlled by the grace of Jesus so that you would let go of a legalism of self-works for acceptance with God or the license to sin in ways that are not acceptable to Him? Turning regularly to reliance upon the grace of Jesus in his imputed righteousness and indwelling Spirit for us is essential for a Christian’s daily experience of God-given forgiveness and freedom to live for what is pleasing to Him. Consider also our need to continue in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, that sources of doubt or discouragement on our spiritual journey are overcome by his confirmations of the Word of God to our very heart and mind.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us indeed. As we remember the reality of our Triune God, may we not only contend for Him in truth but also commune with Him in life.
- Reeves, Stan. The 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith: In Modern English. Cape Coral FL: Founders Press, 2012.
-  Beeke, Joel R. Jones, Mark. A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life. Grand Rapids MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012.
Tony Loseto serves as Pastor of Gateway Church Old Brooklyn in Cleveland Ohio. He has completed a B.S. in Christian Missions from Boyce Bible College. He has served in church planting ministry for the past seven years in the city. He is married to Beth Loseto, a wonderful partner in ministry field, and they are privileged to foster children in their home.
Photo by Tony Hand